His daughter, Pfc. Jacki Crotteau, an intelligence specialist, is also serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 34th Inf. Div. at Contingency Operating Base Basra.

The two spend as much time together as they can when not working. They eat breakfast and dinner together almost daily and go to Sunday church services together weekly.

Jacki, a former editor-in-chief of The St. Francis Crier, her high school newspaper, credits her military service to two things: an impulsive decision on her part and the influence of relationships developed with other Guardsmen as a result of her dad’s 30-year career in the military.

“Guard is family,” said David. “The people I have served with for many years are like aunts and uncles to Jacki. I tried to talk her into joining the Air Force, but the Army was all she knew.”

As for the impulse of her decision to join the Army, Jacki said she had to do something. “I didn’t want to go to college right away. I figured the military would give me experiences that college couldn’t.” One of the things Jacki has experienced here in Iraq is the need to work harder to establish her own identity. She said having her dad here, especially given his rank, kind of casts a shadow that she works hard to step out of. Her hard work has paid off. “I considered myself a people-person before the military,” Jacki said. “But I find it much easier to talk to people now.”

Still, Jacki said she wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. “It’s a good starter deployment,” she said. “I feel privileged because I have a hands-on experience being deployed with my dad.”

David said the deployment has strengthened the bond he has with his daughter. “Our family is used to me being gone, but Jacki more closely identifies with the sacrifices I’ve had to make in my military career,” he added.

This deployment hasn’t been easy on everyone, however. Susan, David’s wife and Jacki’s mother, has a house all to herself now, something she’s not used to.

“I have four children,” David said. “Two are grown and out on their own, Jacki’s here with me, and I have a son in basic (combat) training right now.”

“Mom is doing her part too now because the whole house is empty,” Jacki added. “My brother’s in basic, we’re here and she’s all by herself.”

Jacki said her mother had one thing to say about her and David being here together. “I’m really jealous!”